Southwestern Montana's Roller Derby League


Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.s)


What is Flat Track Roller Derby?

Flat Track Roller Derby is a high energy, contact team sport.  Roller Derby requires a great deal of athleticism and strategy from its players, and can be played on any suitable surface for skating.  The modern version of roller derby emerged in 2001 and has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, with almost 1,000 leagues and thousands of derby players.  Gallatin Roller Derby competes as a women’s only league but both men and women are needed for skating and non-skating support positions.

How is roller derby played?

Roller derby teams ‘bout’ one another five on five through a series of 2 minute ‘jams’. The ‘bout’ consists of two halves of 30 minutes each.  Of the five players on each team, there are three ‘blockers’, one ‘pivot’, and one ‘jammer’.  Points are awarded when the ‘jammer’ position passes team members of the opposite team.  Teammates assist their ‘jammer’ through the pack while at the same time trying to block the other teams ‘jammer’ from scoring.  Fast skating, blocking, penalties and crashes with ten athletes on the floor add to the excitement. Check out this informative video that goes through the basics of modern flat track roller derby. More on how the game is played at

What are the rules of roller derby?

There are a TON of rules and penalties that are assessed when rules are broken. The referees use a series of hand signals to communicate to one another and players and the crowd what is going on. Players are tested on their knowledge of the rules through a written test before they are considered ‘bout’ ready.  Rules can be downloaded on the Women’s Flat Track Derby association website here.

How do I join?

Gallatin Roller Derby welcomes skaters of all abilities.  Skaters must be 18+.  First step is to attend a ‘Fresh Meat Camp’, which are held twice yearly in winter and fall.  This is an 8 week program that teaches our skaters the basics.  Skaters must pass an assessment at the conclusion of the camp to become eligible for contact rating. For more information view our Fresh Meat page HERE

Gallatin Roller Derby requires its athletes to fill out several waivers, sign a code of conduct agreement, sign up for WFTDA skater insurance and pay monthly dues. Click HERE for required documents.

What’s up with these derby names?

Roller derby athletes when not skating are professionals, moms, teachers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, landscapers, city and government employees, you name it – regular contributing members of society.  When athletes step into the derby rink, their derby ‘alter ego’ takes over ready to bring it!

Names are invented by each individual skater (including refs), each one unique and registered to protect the skaters creativity.  Names often contain word play, funny references or denote toughness.  The official list of skater names can be found at

What is the time commitment?

Gallatin Roller Derby currently practices two nights a week and members are expected to attend at least one per week. All members are expected to be on at least one committee.

I want to be involved, but I’m a guy! Can I still be involved?

Gallatin Roller Derby welcomes males to fill skating referee positions and non-skating support positions.  Referee positions may be skated on roller blades though most refs use the quad skates.  Refereeing is challenging as roller derby is chock full of rules and associated penalties. 

This sounds really cool, but I haven’t been on skates in 10 (20, 40?!) years!

Most of Gallatin Roller Derby’s current skaters started out that way! Not too many of us had put on skates since our little white high top Strawberry Shortcake skates when we were six! We are a very welcoming, encouraging group & love helping new skaters!

I can’t play roller derby – I’m too short/tall/skinny/fluffy!

One of the great things about roller derby is it a sport that all shapes & sizes can play! Smaller gals can make really great jammers, & bigger gals can be super blockers!

Are there really girls beating each other up?

No, not without penalties, anyhow.  There are approved contact zones on each player’s body where it is OK to block.  Imagining each player wearing a hospital gown, the approved zones for initiating a block on another player include the scapula area around to the shoulders connecting at the chest, hips to the area just above the knees.  Elbows and fists are not to be used. Athletes that intentionally endanger the physical safety of other players on the track are given major penalties and may be ejected from the bout.

Is roller derby a safe sport?

Roller derby is not ‘safe’ and not for the faint of heart. There’s a saying in derby that it’s not IF you get hurt, but WHEN you get hurt! It is a contact sport so expect the same sort of damage as you would in any sport where hitting is allowed.

I used to watch roller derby & it was like WWF.  What gives?

Not any more! The roller derby of old was a rehearsed spectacle sport. Today it is the real deal. The hits are hard, the falls are even harder and the sweat is flying!

I want to join! Are you taking new members?

Please check out our Fresh Meat page for more information on how to join!

I want to be in a bout.  How to I get into one?

Players must have demonstrated a commitment to Gallatin Roller Derby through attendance at practices, volunteering for committees and general enthusiasm for derby.  Athletes must pass several skills assessments, demonstrating their ability to skate accurately and under control, and pass a written test about the rules and referee signals.

I’m thinking of coming to Fresh Meat Camp. What gear do I need?

Helmet (multi-impact rated – not a bike helmet!), kneepads, elbow pads, wrist guards, mouth guard & quad skates. You will NOT be allowed to skate if you do not have ALL of your gear! Your pads need to be of good quality – the $15 Barbie set or the Wally world knee, elbow & wrist guard package is NOT sufficient!  Skates are available at many online retailers and at several shops around Montana (none currently in Bozeman). Read our Fresh Meat Boot Camp Survival Guide for tips!

How much are dues?

Dues are $35 per month.  Fresh Meat Camp is $100. Drop in skaters from other leagues are $5 a night – must have own insurance. If you want to come check out a practice off skates there is no charge.

I’m with another league and want to ‘drop in’ skate with you.

We’re happy to host you on most practice nights – you must be 18+, be a current dues paying skater with your league and have your own WFTDA insurance in place.  There is a $5 per practice drop in fee.  Please contact us on our Facebook page to let us know if you’re interested in attending.

What is the cost of gear?

The average ‘fresh meat’ skate package is over $200 and includes pads and skates with wheels and bearings.  Derby skates can be as much as $1000.  We don’t suggest getting the best of the best to start off with, however.  You’ll figure out what skates might be best for you as you begin to skate regularly on a starter – medium price range package.  Skates are made of leather and vinyl.  Leather tends to be a better choice for most skaters but is not as economical.  Skates also have plates below the boot made of either metal or vinyl.  Depending on your size either may be a better choice.  It is a good idea to call the shop you are planning on purchasing gear from and get some guidance when purchasing a skate setup.  If you are Fresh Meat Camper, ask the team skaters for advice and for information on sponsorship arrangements that we have with several retailers.

Where can I get gear?

There are many different places that you can get your gear for derby. Here are just a few to get you started:

Local:  World Boards, Play it Again Sports, Hockey Stop